I've been watching a lot of Mad Men recently, and now that the sixth series has finished, I'm having TV series withdrawal symptoms. There's one particular episode where Don Draper and co. make a pitch for Heinz Ketchup. In one of his impressive speeches, Don describes Ketchup as being the condiment. It's the sauce that everyone uses on their food and some things are just incomplete without it. Don may not have won the Heinz Ketchup account in the end, but he was successful in persuading me to make ketchup from scratch!
I was researching recipes for this experiment and I remembered that in one of the Jamie Oliver books I own, Jamie At Home, there's a great recipe for Ketchup which Jamie actually cooked on his TV show.
So I grabbed the book out of my bookcase, bought some tomatoes and got cooking. The whole process was pretty easy but the most time consuming and painstaking part was pushing the sauce through a fine sieve. I only had a small sieve so it took ages.
I had some dried Chipotle and Ancho chilies lying around so I added them to to recipe for a bit of a kick and for some depth of flavour. The Chipotles add a slight smokiness to the sauce.
So the verdict? The first batch was slightly acidic on first taste. It was probably a combination of having tomatoes that weren't ripe enough or sweet enough (tomatoes weren't really in season when I tried this, I would recommend being patient, unlike me!), and the fact that the recipe asks for quite a bit of vinegar. I actually wonder whether this is an error or typo in the book. But after counter-acting this acidity by adding a few extra tablespoons of sugar and cooking the sauce down further, it tasted pretty decent! When I try this again, I'll pair back the vinegar and make sure I get some really ripe tomatoes.
What you need:
- 1 kg of assorted tomatoes, chopped.
- 1 bunch of fresh basil.
- 2 dried Chipotle chilies.
- 1 Ancho chili, that has been de-seeded and toasted on a dry frying pan for a few minutes and then soaked for 10 minutes in warm water.
- A stick of cinnamon.
- 2 cloves.
- A tablespoon of smoked paprika.
- 2 teaspoons of coriander seeds.
- 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds.
- 1 bulb of fennel, roughly chopped.
- 2 brown onions, roughly chopped.
- 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped.
- 1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and sliced.
- 2 tablespoons of chili oil.
- A thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped.
- 2 bay leaves.
- 2/3 cup of brown sugar.
- 1 tablespoon of salt.
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper.
- 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar.
The sauce making:
- Add the chilli oil into a pot and then sauté the onions, garlic, fennel, celery, chopped basil stalks, and ginger, until the onions are golden brown.
- Add in the other spices (the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, paprika, bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon stick) and fry off until aromatic.
- Now, drop in the chopped tomatoes along with around 300 ml of water.
- Bring the pot to the boil, then add in your chipotle and ancho chillies.
- Simmer all of the ingredients on a low heat until the mix has been reduced by half. This could take a while... (go watch Mad Men).
- Add in the basil and take the sauce off the heat.
- Pour the sauce into a blender and whiz it up until blended thoroughly.
- Now comes the annoying part - push the sauce through a fine sieve and discard any tomato skin or other unwanted chunks.
- Add the sieved sauce into a fresh pot, and add in the vinegar and sugar.
- Reduce the sauce again until it gets to a Ketchup-like consistency. Add extra salt/sugar to taste.
- Finally, sterilize a jar or bottle and then add in your sauce.